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Suicide Cases In Malaysia Increase By 10% From 2022 To 2023

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2022 has shown an increase in suicidal behaviour among teenagers aged 13 to 17.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks in the Dewan Rakyat on March 5, 2024. Photo from Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad's Facebook page.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 – In 2023, 1,087 cases of suicide were recorded in Malaysia, compared to 981 cases the previous year, which marks an increase of 10 per cent, or by 106 cases.

According to statistics from the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), within a period of five years, the number of suicide cases was highest in 2021 with 1,142 cases.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad provided this data in a parliamentary reply to Senator Shamsuddin Ghaffar last March 27.

Shamsuddin wanted to know the extent of the mental health epidemic among Malaysians, and what measures the government has taken to address it.

In his reply, Dzulkefly said he is aware of the country’s rising trend in mental health issues and noted that the severity of the disease is tied to suicidal behaviour.

He cited the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 2022, which found that 26.9 per cent of teenagers suffered from depression, compared to 18.3 per cent in 2017.

The same study showed an increase in suicidal behaviour among teenagers aged 13 to 17, with the prevalence of suicidal ideation surging from 10 per cent in 2017 to 13.1 per cent in 2022, while the prevalence of suicide attempts rose from 6.9 per cent in 2017 to 9.5 per cent in 2022.

“Mental health issues are caused by a number of factors including financial crises, relationship problems, family conflicts, and being subjected to violence and abuse,” said Dzulkefly.

“At the moment, mental health services are offered at 1,080 klinik kesihatan (government clinics), 60 hospitals, 34 community mental health centres (MENTARI), and four mental health institutions, involving promotion, prevention, early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation for mental health patients.”

His ministry has implemented several initiatives based on the 2020-2025 Mental Health Strategic Plan. 

This includes the National Mental Health Crisis helpline, HEAL Line 15555 (Help with Empathy and Love), which operates every day from 8am to 12am, and is managed by Ministry of Health (MOH) counselling officers.

The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS), which consists of health personnel trained in providing mental health screening services, psychological first aid, as well as psychoeducational activities, is available in every district, according to the minister.

Additionally, the MySAVE (Malaysia Suicide Awareness Voice of Hope) programme, is a cross-agency effort to prevent suicidal behaviour by implementing proper training for frontline personnel in the police, fire and rescue departments, the Civil Defence Force, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, on how to handle suicidal behaviour.

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